I can’t remember exactly what recent news story brings this to mind, but the thought popped into my head the other day that the American Art Culture (and I’m including in that visual arts, theater, movies, and music) has been getting a pass from the rest of us on Responsibility. I say this as a former college rock band singer and piano hacker. This really matters for us parents because nothing could be clearer than the natural gravity of arts and media and how they pull powerfully on our teens. It also really matters for the Seattle church because we want, especially through the talents and efforts of Darin Ford, to build an outreach to the Seattle arts community that saves lives and glorifies our artistic God.
What do I mean by pass? I mean that the advocates of today’s art scene long for maximum freedom of expression (amen), including the freedom to protest (amen), but tend to fall silent when people like me suggest that with such freedom and opportunity comes much responsibility (cough). Can I get an Andy Warhol amen to that?
Let me be clearer. For a youth culture, nothing speaks louder than arts and sports. Both are actually leading our teens. The old basketball saw Charles Barkley barked, “I’m not a role model; parents are role models,” but he was dead wrong. Entertainers and artists likewise swear that their craft is only about expression. They too are as wrong as a Mondrian with a picture frame. When you influence, you lead. Excellence in any area becomes a form of leadership, whether you asked for it or not.
So here’s the challenge: ALL YOU ARTISTS out there, you are not just “expressing” yourselves. You are not just exercising “voice”. In the hard, real, world, you ARE leading our teens. So lead responsibly, morally, tastefully, and positively. Otherwise, GET OUT OF THE ARTS! Do something else that doesn’t lead–like become an art critic. (You know teens never read that stuff.)